Getting your small business noticed and off the ground can be a very tricky thing at the start of your journey, and there will be several inevitable hurdles you will need to jump over in order to have a chance in the wild world that is ‘startupland’. All of these hurdles however can be made several times worse if you don’t define your brand first. Here are some pointers and tips into getting to know your brand before you ask strangers to use it.
1. If you’re selling to everybody, you’re selling to nobody
Know your audience, is essentially the punchline here. Your target market plays a big role in the design of the brand identity, how your brand pillars are aligned and what your brand messaging looks like. Even as a small business, these are important aspects. I have met business owners on countless occasions and asked them who their target audience is, with the reply being “everyone really” far too many times. Are you selling products or services? Are they corporate B2B or direct to consumer? Are you targeting budget families and students or retired rich folk? Answers to all questions like this is what will shape what your branding needs to portray and to whom.
2. People recognise brands
“A signature color can increase brand recognition by 80%”, “ It only takes consumers 10 seconds to form a first impression of a brand’s logo”, “Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than we process words” – (www.crowdspring.com – 20 Statistics About Branding Every Entrepreneur and Marketer Should Know). These are all facts to support that visuals are the absolute key to brand recognition, and it is fundamentally important to determine how your brand is perceived. I don’t need to show you a big sign saying “Apple” for you to recognise it’s an iPhone. All you need to see is a curvy yellow ‘M’ sign to recognise that you’re in a McDonald’s. When you ask your customers to interact with your business, they deserve to be able to do so easily with minimal effort and as little cognitive load as possible. In the current times when everybody is super busy, overloaded with media and content online, and bombarded with advertising left, right and centre, your target audience needs to remember your brand if you want a slither of a chance that it will be distinguished the next time the come across it. Appropriate branding will allow your business to stand out in the vastly over-saturated market.
We have written an article about this, and the key differences between branding and marketing. Check it out here
Believe it or not, “90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously.” Your customers will naturally be more attracted to your brand visuals if they have come across them before over a competitor, especially if they have had a s positive experience. Similarly, they will be put off if they have a negative experience the first time. A few years ago I’ve had a Vauxhall Corsa break on me in the middle of a motorway. Out of several cars I have owned over the years, this was the only one that actually broke down. The negative experience was enough for me to steer away from purchasing a Vauxhall ever again. A totally irrational fear, I know – nevertheless, I will always subconsciously feel like I’m at a greater risk of breaking down if I step foot in a Vauxhall.
4. Differentiation from other small business competitors
A good brand identity will let your small business stand out from the crowd. Every business owner will say that “my business is better than my competitors” – they know that, their family knows that, their friends know that, but to the average customer, it’s an unsupported, utterly meaningless and biased statement. When creating a brand identity for your business, you are able to define and back up things like:
What do you believe in? What are the core values of your business? What issues does your business stand for? Small business owners often forget this.
A strong brand message should intrigue, motivate and persuade to interact / purchase. It should convey the full value proposition
As mentioned earlier, visuals are the absolute key to brand recognition, and it’s what resonates with your customers more than anything else will.
Tone of voice
Your tone of voice should be entirely based off of your brand values (what you believe in) and the target market that it needs to reach (how to communicate to those people.)
As mentioned earlier, if you are selling to everybody, you are selling to nobody. Clearly define your target market and build those into your values, messaging and tone of voice
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